Dan Abbott


Dan Abbott maintains a dual-focused law practice encompassing trust and probate litigation as well as corporate and real estate transactions.

Dan’s approach is a win-win for clients. In transactional matters, he considers deal terms for potential litigation risks to anticipate and protect the interests of his clients in the event of a dispute. Likewise, Dan’s experience with corporate transactions and business operations allows him to quickly identify issues and strategize more effectively in litigation matters.

Dan handles trust and probate disputes from the onset of a disagreement through trial and appeal. He also counsels his trust and estate clients regarding non-litigation and pre-litigation legal matters, including estate and private wealth planning issues, trust and estate administration, commercial transactions concerning trust and estate assets, exploration and resolution of pre-litigation controversies, litigation avoidance techniques, and structuring of global trust and estate settlements. With the aging of the Baby Boomer population, fiduciaries, business professionals, and their families are increasingly relying on Dan to navigate the unique complexities of probate court proceedings that result from inheritance disputes.

In his transactional practice, Dan represents a wide variety of corporate and individual clients, both domestic and international, in all manner of business, real property and private client matters, including purchase, sale, financing, and exchange of real estate and capital assets, corporate operations and governance, as well as the structuring of joint ventures and multilayered arrangements.


  • Super Lawyers, 2018-present
  • Best of the Bar, 2016 - San Diego Business Journal
  • Rising Star, Super Lawyers, 2015

Representative Matters

Probate, Trusts and Estates

  • Defended trust beneficiary against petition to invalidate trust and stock purchase agreement governing shares of stock of $25 million airport operation – prevailed at trial
  • Represented trustee in suit to recover embezzled trust funds – prevailed at trial
  • Represented beneficiary in claim to recover damages from co-trustees for breaches of fiduciary duty - prevailed at trial
  • Represented trust beneficiaries in disputed claim to beneficial interest in $190+ million real estate portfolio – settled favorably
  • Represented trust beneficiaries in disputed claim to shares of stock and board seats of $19+ million holding company – settled favorably
  • Defended fiduciary against petition to remove and to set aside instrument on grounds of undue influence and lack of capacity - prevailed at trial
  • Represented trustee in petition to enforce agreement to assign insurance proceeds upon death – prevailed at trial, upheld on appeal
  • Represented beneficiaries of a $17+ million trust estate in pursuit of their claim to half of the estate – prevailed at final hearing
  • Defended trustees against claim for $1.5+ million of unpaid income – dismissed in favorable settlement
  • Defended trustee against petition to set aside non-probate transfer of community property in the form of a $1 million insurance policy – prevailed at final hearing
  • Represented trustee/beneficiary in disputed claim to title to Italian real property – settled favorably
  • Multiple contested accountings – settled favorably
  • Structured multiple global settlements on behalf of trustees and beneficiaries in contested administrations involving real estate, corporate, and personal property assets

Real Estate and General Business

  • Lead counsel to established and emerging growth companies in a broad range of real estate and commercial transactions, including:
    • $300 million multi-purpose holding company, managing all commercial, financing, and real estate transactions
    • Private real estate secured lending fund, managing lending, loan servicing, enforcement and litigation matters
    • Numerous start-up companies, including software, medical device, and import-export, handling formational, licensing and intellectual property matters
    • Major real estate development company, handling site acquisitions, due diligence, and financing, title and insurance matters
  • Advice regarding short and long term corporate growth and risk management strategy
  • Acquisition, disposition, and exchange of capital assets
  • Financing and secured lending transactions
  • Formation of business organizations, entity networks, holding companies and subsidiaries
  • All manner of real estate transactions, including purchase, sale, lease, and license
  • International structuring for inbound and outbound transactions
  • Construction, development, entitlement and joint venture transactions
  • Licensing and intellectual property transactions
  • Third party services, consulting and agency contracts

Publications & Presentations

  • Counsel of Record, Gaynor v. Bulen (2018) 19 Cal.App.5th 864
  • Lecturer, "Minding Their Business: Handling Estates with Private Business Interests," Professional Fiduciary Association of California – Annual Educational Conference, April 24, 2014
  • Lecturer, "Estate Planning Pitfalls Leading to Litigation," San Diego County Bar Association, Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Section, March 21, 2013
  • Author, "Increase in trust, estates litigation creates demand for specialized attorneys and professional advisers," San Diego Daily Transcript, December 19, 2012
  • Co-Author, "Strategies for Representing Clients in Probate Court" (Thomson Reuters/Aspatore 2012, Inside the Minds series) Chapter 2, Contested Probate Court Proceedings:  A Multidisciplinary Approach
  • Lecturer, "Techniques to Consider in Avoiding Fiduciary Liability," (2012)
  • Author, "The United Nations and Intrastate Conflict:  A Legislative History of Article 39 of the United Nations Charter," 8 Univ. of Calif. Davis J. of Int’l L. and Policy 275, University of California at Davis Journal of International Law and Policy (Spring 2002)


Prior to founding the firm, Dan was a shareholder at Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek in San Diego, California, where he led the firm’s Trust & Estate Litigation Practice.

Dan received his B.A., cum laude, from the University of California, Berkeley in 1997. He earned his law degree from the University of California, Davis in 2001. He served as a judicial extern to Presiding Justice Arthur G. Scotland, California Court of Appeal, Third District.

In 2000, Dan received a King Hall Legal Foundation grant award to work as a legal intern with the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Office of the Prosecutor, Arusha, Tanzania, where he aided counsel in the prosecution of war criminals for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. He has also translated Letters Rogatory from French to English for the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, in connection with a criminal prosecution involving foreign parties.

Dan's non-legal work experience includes marketing and public relations for Fleishman Hillard International Communications, serving on the staff of California State Assemblyman Dick Ackerman, and working as a surgical instrument provider liaison for DePuy Orthopedics.

Dan is a member of the State Bar of California, the San Diego County Bar Association (Real Property Law section, Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law section), and the Probate Attorneys of San Diego. He is admitted to practice law before the U.S. District Court, Northern and Southern Districts of California.

Dan Abbott portrait


Dan Abbott, Esq.

Witham Mahoney & Abbott, LLP

401 B Street, Suite 2220
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619.407.0505
Email: abbott@wmalawfirm.com
Web: www.wmalawfirm.com